I’d like to think that I have a rational mind. I reason through everyday actions with computer-like calculation: wake up at 8:30, put on the kettle at 8:33, watch Walking Dead for 45 minutes, do the laundry (or not)…and so on. I’m freaky organized. I Swiffer. On sunny days I line up the house plants on my bedroom floor so they can soak it up. I stretch.
People say that I’m down to earth. Grounded.
But most people don’t know that I’m convinced that mermaids are real. That the underwater city of Atlantis exists. And whenever I get a cut, I imagine my blood cells as a crew of construction workers re-fabricating my skin.
And germs aren’t real. Then again, yeast is totally real. And it totally made this bread the bomb.
Ever since I moved back to Boston, I’ve wanted a Dutch oven to make delicious loaves, so a red-headed Santa Claus plopped one in my lap with a green bow. It’s a beast. You need one.
You have to time this process so that you’re at home when the time comes for baking. 12-18 hours to rise, 15 minutes rest, 2 hours additional resting, and an hour and a half of baking.
Gassy, crusty, moist. All without a machine.
No Knead Bread.
Adapted from Jim Lahey’s original recipe.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 5/8 cup water, room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast, hydrated
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
To hydrate the yeast, add equal parts water to it and let it sit until it becomes a paste.
In a very large bowl, combine flours and salt. Add water and hydrated yeast and mix until all of the flour is fully incorporated. Don’t try to knead! This dough will be very, very sticky and will not form any shape.
Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough ferment for 12-18 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the surface of the dough is covered in bubbles.
Lightly dust a large surface with flour and scrape out the dough onto it. Fold in the corners (like an envelope) and let rest for 15 minutes covered in plastic wrap.
Dust a cotton towel with flour. Once the dough has rested for 15 minutes, lightly shape it into a ball without over-working it. Place the dough onto the towel and cover with another layer of flour and another towel. Let rest for 2 hours.
Half an hour before final fermentation, turn on the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with the Dutch oven inside. It needs to be extremely hot before you place the dough into it.
Once the dough has doubled in size, take the Dutch oven outside of the oven and flip the dough into the pot, seam side (i.e. the “bottom”) facing up. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. Take the lid off and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes, until the bread is golden and crisp.
Let cool on a rack. It’ll crackle and pop. It’ll smell like a bakery in your house.
Makes one massive loaf.